After sewing for six hours on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning craving sunshine, fresh air and a focal point that wasn't six inches in front of my face. I needed a day of mental health.
I drove into Beverly Hills and visited my friend Amanda Eliasch at her Hal Levitt-designed aerie on the top of Mulholland. Photographer, author and fashion editor-at-large for Genlux magazine, she was in town from London for a few weeks to start work on a new play with her co-writer Lyall Watson and to take advantage of the California weather (although the recent deluge had her thinking she was still in England).
(Amanda in Hollywood, 2009)
Both clad in black, we lay on Balinese chaises overlooking a glistening view that stretched to the ocean and caught up on each other's lives. The Grammy Awards were that night, although neither of us were going this year. "Darling, you know pop music just isn't my raison d'etre," she said emphatically.
(Photo: Amanda Eliasch)
Bathed in sunny light, I closed my eyes and tried to soak up all the lovely energy that was surrounding me. I wanted to fully absorb the joy of just doing nothing. Around us, palm trees swayed, birds gossiped and every now and then a muffled reminder of civilization would waft lazily up to us from the distant canyons.
We spoke about writing (Amanda has a fascinating personal blog), travelling and at one point, tried in vain to remember an artist known for his wallpaper who was a contemporary of Eric Ravilious. It was too much effort to sift through our memory banks for his name, so we let it go and allowed our thoughts to drift, bob and meander at will.
For this trip to California, she had flown in a highly-touted chef from Brazil to put her and Lyall on a strict cleansing diet: no coffee, alcohol, starch, sugar, dairy or red meat. They were ten days into the thick -- err, thin -- of it and were looking chic and svelte, as was the chef, who was a virtual doppelganger of Penelope Cruz. I wanted in.
Lunch was equal parts intimidating and delicious.
(High-protein black rice with zucchini-squash rillettes;
photo courtesy of Amanda Eliasch)
Driving home down the winding roads, I felt emotionally refreshed, physically nourished and totally in command of my senses, proof of which was that the name of the artist I blanked on suddenly popped into my head: Edward Bawden. Love him. Another famed English eccentric, his graphic linocut designs feel just as fresh and modern today.
(Pigeon and Clocktower Wallpaper, 1927)
(Hare and Tortoise linocut, 1970)
(Design for wrapping paper, "Deer and Trees", 1960)
(Kew Gardens, 1936)
Wit, warmth and a recipe for weight loss...not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.